Author Archive

I have a (cunning) plan!


That was the favourite phrase of Baldrick (Tony Robinson) in a favourite of mine Blackadder.


I read a recent new article,, regarding how in India, Chander Prakesh Gurnani, was appointed to turn around an IT company which was on the point of collapse.


He had to undertake a reduction in staff but his plan to turnaround the company was to break it up into 11 streams to make it more manageable.

To sell or not to sell -That is the question!

I want to stir things up!

Selling and Networking do not go together!


But that is the reason to network, some people will say.

No it is not.

You are there to meet get to know people and build relationships.

From building a relationship business will follow.

It may start with someone asking your advice.

Give it freely.

You can’t win them all

It is a fact of life you will not win every order that you bid/quote for, but it is not a total loss.


Try and gain some information on why you did not succeed this time. I may be purely on price, especially if you were offering an identical product to your competition.

However this is often not the case for the lost order and here are some possible reasons.

Customer Service R.I.P. !!

I recently read an article on Forbes – ‘The Winning Approach to Customer Service Just Common Sense’, and it is amazing that with a lot of businesses in sales, this goes out of the window to make a sale at any cost.

Well they may have taken that one order and in probability that is all it will be one order. They obviously do not want that customer to come back in the future with further business.

What do you sell?

This is a question which I ask every client at the beginning of any project and invariably I get we sell so & so widgets or service, which is the reply I expect.

BUT, and it is a ‘big but’, that is what your product IS and not what your customer is purchasing from you.

Invariably I get a get a look from puzzled to ‘this guy is nuts’!


So do you know what you sell?


New season

I am a motor racing F1 fan and the past 10 days has seen the various teams launching their new cars for the 2013 season prior to the beginning of 3 test events in Spain.


Well what has that got to do with business and sales – quite a lot actually!

Obviously the various press launches of the manufacturers are planned to give as much press coverage and hence advertising of their product, but what else.

Do you value the price?

A bit cryptic –Yes, purposely

To a lot of businesses their selling price rules, but is that all, your customer is looking for – a low price if so, I suggest that they are not a valued customer.


There is that word value(ed) again, for in reality that is what we all are looking for when we make a purchase – VALUE.


I need more customers


That is a comment I often receive when discussing sales development with potential clients.

Invariably I respond – no you don’t which gets some strange looks, if not comments!

I then add to that statement: You already have them!


That is the point, most businesses have a database, in one form or another of customers but they are not using it.

CPD – What happens next?

By the time you read this article I will have completed the PTLLS course which I mention in my last post.

So has it been worthwhile and of any use?

The answer must be a definite – Yes.


CPD – You are never too old to learn!

Due to a new project at the local enterprise agency with whom I am involved, I have returned to college to gain the Preparing to Teach in Lifelong Learning Support (PTLLS commonly called Petals) qualification.
Going back into formal learning, albeit only one afternoon a week, is a shock to the system. Both, for the learning and the need to produce formal essays which, I can tell you, took significant effort to write the first formal essay (2500 words), and to date have learnt a lot.

So what you may ask am I doing going back to college to take a teaching course. It is due to the need to gain this award to deliver courses which are government funded.
When I first learned about the need for this qualification, my initial thought was: Why do I need this ‘piece of paper’ to deliver a course on a subject, on which I am well versed.

Think like the buyer

The previous article covered the subject of your customers purchasing on need

You have made contact with your customer, identified a requirement & understood their needs (hopefully)
You are now working on closing the order.

Before that meeting or call you must sit down and consider your approach and answer three questions:
What do they gain by purchasing from me?
Why would your product make their job easier?
Why should they buy from you?

There’s an awful lot of coffee!

Coffee shops are big business, just look at the proliferation of them at your local shopping centre and I like the occasional cup of coffee, but I’m confused by the various versions on the menu, Latte, Mocha, Americano, Au Lait, Espresso, etc.

I wonder how many customers really know, what these different versions are.

In addition there is often very little explanation on the menu board, to help you make a choice, just the price for small, medium or large.

Sales pipeline or funnel?

This post is by Mike Vaughan


Your sales forecast is the base document, either hardcopy or soft, for your business development.

It must be a working document and not one which is wheeled out once a quarter or year.


OK, you say but how do I fill that document with meaningful figures.

This is down to your market intelligence.

So what is the process?


The two concepts often used to graphically describe this, are the sales funnel or pipeline. Basically the same but with one important difference which I argue for more a more efficient sales process should be the latter.


What are the various stages?

1.    Suspect – identification

2.    Prospect – Knowledge of requirement

3.    Qualification – confirmation of need

4.    Presentation – of potential solution

5.    Proposal

6.    Negotiation

7.    Order.



How good is your sales forecast?

How good is your sales forecast; that is the question?

In fact, do you even have one!


The sales forecast is one of the most crucial elements of your business plan. Without an accurate forecast of your businesses potential income, you will be unable to set targets or have knowledge of your profit potential.

That is what we are in business for, to make a profit.


For many years whilst working in industry, the quarterly or annual sales forecast period was dreaded – ‘stop your sales activities and submit your sales forecast’ edict, was sent out.

At that time it was a ‘had to do’ activity and numbers were duly entered on the appropriate forms and submitted.

As I ascended the sales ladder to product & then sales manager I came to appreciate the purpose of this exercise.

Today running my own small business, I appreciate how vital it can be.


I hear some people saying: Well what use is it? : It’s just to keep the bank manager happy!


A well thought out and constructed sales forecast will reap benefits throughout the year. Without it your business plan will be no more than a collection of financial tables.